Today we are talking about that comparison trap we all fall into, that negative cycle of thoughts and inadequate feelings that lead us to believe that we are not good enough, we’re not doing enough. We all suffer from this at some point or another. And most of us, quite often, if we’re being honest.
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Now, let me ask you a question, and be serious about the answer.
If you had to put a lipstick dot on your face, like a freckle or a polka dot every time you compared yourself to someone else or every time you compared yourself to a younger version of yourself or a time in your life where you were better at something, the old you, or the successes that you have to that of somebody that you know or admire, at the end of the day, how freckly and polka-dotted would your face look?
Kind of a funny
And oftentimes, these are automatic thoughts that happen without us even being aware that they’re happening. They cause feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, inadequacy, and they can manipulate the way we show up in life. They could stop us from taking action, stop us from going after our dreams and acquiring what it is that we want out of life. They really can stop us from living our best life, and we don’t even know that they’re happening. That’s not good. So that’s what we want to address today.
Number one, we want to be more aware of these thoughts as they’re happening and understanding why we’re happening. We always do something to either avoid pain or seek pleasure, right? Now, the two reasons we have comparison thoughts is to fit in or to feel good. Now, when we compare up to somebody that’s doing better than us, we might start to feel inadequate and we think, “Oh my gosh. In order to be adequate, in order to be successful, to be seen as
Comparison to Fit In
We may compare down and do that same thing, where we think, “I’m getting to be too successful. I’m getting too good at this and I no longer fit into where I came from. I need to tone it back a little bit so that I don’t isolate myself from my pack.”
We are wired as human beings to fit in. We are wired to seek love, approval, and validation from those around us. That’s part of our survival instincts that’s hard-wired into our brains. And so that happens automatically without us even being aware of the thoughts and the underlying emotions that are below the surface, that keep us in a state of acceptance. They keep us fitting in, so we might find ourselves comparing, comparing down in that way.
Comparison to Feel Good
Likewise, we might compare to feel good. Now, we might compare with somebody who isn’t doing quite as well in a certain area of life
Now, there’s also a possibility that we can compare up to feel good in a good way, in a positive way, where we look at somebody who’s doing better than us in a certain area and we’re inspired. And it’s also possible to compare down and go, “You know what? They are on their own path in life. They’re not quite where I am yet, but if they choose to be, they could be here. But I’m going to tell you, I’m happy about where I am and while I’m not judging or I’m not demeaning in any way that’s person’s choices, I am grateful for where I am at this moment.”
You might not be where you want to be in your career yet, maybe not as successful, and when you compare up to somebody else who’s more successful than you, it can feel defeating and deflating. But at the same time, you can look at somebody who’s just getting started, who is where you were once upon a time, back at that entry level, ground floor, and you go, “I’m glad that’s not me,” right? “I’ve been there, done that, and I’m glad I’m beyond that in my journey. And I’m grateful for where I am when I look at it from that perspective.”
Getting Out of the Comparison Trap
So we want to get out of the traps of comparing to fit in or to boost our own ego, and move into that place of inspiration, gratitude, and compassion, both for ourselves and for everybody else and where they are in their own journeys. We do that by understanding that we are all in different places running our own race. We all have our own path to follow, to reach our destiny. We all have our own journey. And while another person’s journey might look similar to yours, it is not the same at all. They were given a unique set of strengths and skills and tools, and it is their journey to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes and acquire the lessons that they need to continue to build their skills to make it to where they need to go.
Your path is totally different. You were given your own unique skills and strengths. You have to learn lessons along the way as well so that you can continue to build those skills and those strengths, and collect tools for your own toolbox to get where you need to go.
While two people’s pasts may look similar, they’re not. When we look at our paths and we think, “Well, your journey is exactly like mine,” it’s so easy to see what they’re doing well, to look over at the other person next to you and say, “They’re so perfect. They have so many strengths, and they’re doing so well,” and compare where they are to where you are, to compare their strengths to your flaws, their end to your beginning. Those are detrimental mistakes because when we do that, we idolize them. We paint this picture of perfection and we tend to forget that that person is human too, that they are also struggling. They’re also making mistakes, that they also have feelings and they cry at night when things aren’t working. And they get frustrated and they feel defeated, and they’re crushed with feelings of self-doubt at times as well. But you don’t know it because they don’t present that side to the world. These are very private emotions that most of us keep to ourselves.
When we look over there, we see something that’s not real. We see the projected image. You do the same thing. You project the good out into the world. You put your best photos on social media. You share your wins with your friends, and only the people closest to you get to know what’s really going on, maybe your spouse, your best friend, your therapist, your coach. Very few other people know the struggles that you go through and that you’ve gone through to get to where you are. That’s true for you and it’s true for everybody else who’s out there trying to get to where they’re going.
But when we only see the good, we forget that that’s true. We start to idealize what the lives of others look like, and we put them up on this pedestal. We forget that they’re human, and then we compare our humanness to their
Questions to Ask Yourself
So when you find yourself doing that, ask yourself a couple of questions. How long has she been working to get where she is? Now, overnight successes don’t happen overnight, although it appears to be that way. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything, right? You don’t see the experts until they’ve started to get close to that 10,000-hour mark. You don’t see the pain and the struggle and the torture that they put in at hour zero and hour 500 and 5,000, and all the pain that they had to go through to get there. You only see the result.
When you’re looking at somebody else’s journey and you see where they are toward the end of their journey, or pretty well along on their path, and you’re just beginning, is it fair to compare? Because if you were to get real, and you were to travel back in time and look at their progress and to see where they were at when they were at the beginning too, you would find a lot of similarities. You would discover that you two are really similar and you both started in the same place with the same kind of struggles, and you both have the same thoughts and the same feelings. Why they are where they are now is because they persevered, they pushed through and they kept going. And you’re going to do the same thing. You’re going to persevere and you’re going to keep going, and you are going to get there too in your own time.
Another question to ask is what was the cost? What did this person have to give up? What did they have to sacrifice? Now, often we see people that achieve a lot in a very little time. You might see another woman who maybe started at the same time you did, gradually did high school with you even, so you know you’re the same age, you came from the same background, you have so much in common. And she, at 30, is so successful in her career and you are just starting your career. Okay, well, what did she give up in her 20s to make that happen? Did she give up the idea of getting married and having children, while you have a wonderful spouse and beautiful children that you are so proud of, and you devoted a lot of the last 10 years to that? Did you travel? Did you do things that she wasn’t able to do because she was so focused on moving her career forward? She gave that up. You didn’t. But you gave up the time focused on your career, so your beginnings are starting at different places, different times in life.
Now, if that’s something you really want, are you willing to pay the price to get it at that rate? Or are you willing to pay less of a price of time and energy and effort, and allow it to happen when it’s supposed to happen? Are you going to give everything up that’s important to you to focus all your energy and attention and get it now? Or are you okay with balance and allowing it to take a little bit longer, less of an aggressive approach?
When you start to idealize where somebody else is, when you start to tell the story in your head, that their life is perfect, that the grass is greener over there, ask yourself, is that really true? Is that person really without flaw, without pain, without struggle? And allow yourself a moment to step inside of their shoes, in their world, and experience life from their perspective and get real about what is true, what it is that’s really going on over there, and ask yourself, “Is that really what I want?” Or, “I’m I happy with where I am? Am I content here in my life, with the problems that I think are problems, and the emotions that I’m feeling, and the struggles that I’m experiencing?”
The answer likely is going to be yes because you are experiencing whatever it is you’re experiencing for your own reason because these are struggles that you have the tools and you’re equipped to overcome. These are your struggles and they’re here for you. They’re happening for you, not to you, for you, to teach you a lesson, to help you become stronger so that you can get to that destination, you can get to where you’re going. And that everything that’s happening for you is part of the human experience.
When you remember that, that they’re struggling and they’re experiencing struggles and lessons just as you are, you then are reminded that you are not alone in this journey. The journey is yours, but you are not alone, that everybody you know, every single person, successful, not successful, rich, poor, famous, not famous, they all experience humanity. They all have doubts. They all have fears. They all struggle, and they all have to learn the same lessons that you and I have to learn.
Comparison Trap Takeaways
A couple of tips, a couple of pointers that I want you to take away from this episode. And write these down if you’d like. I want you to remember that if they can do it, so can you. The fact that somebody else has achieved what it is that you’d like to
Next, remind yourself not to compare your worst to their best. Don’t look in social media and see somebody’s beautiful pictures and then look around your life and say, “My life is falling apart and theirs is perfect.” It’s not true. You might be having a bad time, they might be having a good time, and that doesn’t mean that that’s always the case. Be honest about where you are and where they are and know that everybody has good days and bad days. Everybody has high points and low points, and that their range of emotions and their range of experiences is normal and it’s part of the human experience.
Lastly, don’t compare your beginning to their end. Remember that you are on your own journey just as they are on theirs. And while they may be further ahead, they may have started before you or they may have moved faster because they’ve made some sacrifices. That doesn’t mean that they are better and that you are not enough, and that you are doing anything wrong. You are doing everything exactly right. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be right now and you are on your way to going where it is that you’re supposed to be going.
Keep your eyes on your own path. Run your own race. Stop competing with the people around you and compete only with yourself. Measure your progress. Look at where you were a day ago, a week ago, a month ago, or even a year ago, and acknowledge how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and how much you have achieved and learned in that time. Keep an eye on where you’re going and continue to celebrate your wins and your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be exactly where you want to be.
If you want tools that will help you raise your vibe, achieve your goals, and live your best life, join my tribe. I want to help you get there. All you’ve got to do is learn how to incorporate these tools into your life and make them a habit. And I promise you it’s easier than you might think.